Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Makes A Man?

It's like they're a different species. But, sadly, they aren't. And when I see these people, I find it hard to believe that I am the same gender.

They are the men who think that they have the right to get a woman, who they don't know, to do anything they want, just because they talk to her.

They are the men who think that just because they talk to a woman, who they don't know, that that woman must speak back, must engage them.

They are the men who think that every woman who walks down a street wants to hear, from this total stranger, that she's beautiful, that she needs to thank them for the compliment that she didn't solicit.

They are the men who think that exclaiming "Damn!" and "I just saw a thousand dollars!" would be an appropriate thing to say to another human being.

The video is alarming. I find it disturbing. If you haven't seen it, here is the video, by Hollaback!, "an international movement to end street harassment," as they describe themselves, which shows a woman walking the streets of New York and enduring more than 100 cat calls over a 10-hour period.


I watched it and I was shocked, disgusted, and ashamed. The behavior by these men is not only inappropriate, it's creepy and frightening. The men who walk along for blocks, as though they think that kind of stalking is deserving of her attention, are despicable.

The woman who participated in the experiment, actress Shoshana Roberts, must be given kudos for enduring what are clear-cut cases of harassment. At times, I feared for her; most of the time, I felt sorry for what she endured and what women are faced with on a daily basis.

When I read some of the comments on the YouTube page for the video, I was further disgusted by how some men thought that there was something wrong with Ms Roberts for not accepting the so-called compliments. Hollaback! even reported that Ms Roberts had received threats of rape.

I hung my head in shame, flabbergasted that such "men" existed.

From a purely biological perspective, I think we men can't help ourselves from noticing a woman that we find attractive (the same goes with women who see a man they like: it's how our population continues to grow). But from a sociological and evolutionary perspective, surely, we must be able to control ourselves and treat a woman with the respect that she deserves. To keep our mouths shut, our hands to ourselves, and to leave a person in peace.

Every woman deserves the right to walk down a street without being harassed. (I would say every person deserves that right, but how many men walk in dread of heading to bus, knowing that someone might shout out, "Hey, good looking? What's your name? Can I get your number?")*

I'm guilty of stopping to watch a woman that I find attractive as she walks by. But I would never gawk, never call out to her, never follow her. Because I don't have that right. Because that woman has the right to not be treated as an object.

We have to step up and put a stop to this sort of harassment. We must speak up and speak out when we see behaviour such as this**.

Real men don't treat others as objects.




* I understand that this issue doesn't simply come down to women being harassed. People from the GLBT community are also harassed. It all has to stop.

** I have since found another similar video: this one is shot in Brussels and seems more disturbing because the men are more aggressive and abusive.

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